Recently I’ve started participating in several Etsy seller groups. I’m learning that I can influence sales by using the right tags and titles for each of my items. It’s confusing and I won’t attempt to explain it here but it has made me more aware of the art of selling – something I’ve always considered myself rather good at. I’ve discovered that I have a lot to learn from these groups. But even more important is the confidence these groups inspire – I am doing many things right.
One of the moderators of a sales group targeting handmade business is Kateland Kelly of Copywriting for Creatives. She specializes in just that – writing copy for handmade items and other similar topics essential to the small business owner who creates and manufactures their inventory. She asked the question a few days ago, “What’s your word?” And then followed up with “I want everyone to think about their word for 2017. It should be something that inspires you, empowers you, and describes what your year will be.”
Choosing my word for 2017 was easy – fulfilled. To more fully describe…
Fulfilled – satisfied or happy because of fully developing one’s abilities or character
See, 2015 was my year of change. It was the year I chose to quit writing for a literary site 30-40 hours a week. It was the year I boldly started calling myself an artist and allowed myself the time to actually create art. In the ten previous years, my art studio had been a place I wandered to when I had the time. I loved spending time in my art studio. I loved planning my next art project. I loved reorganizing my wonderful studio. But as one of those people who is always busy, the time I spent actually creating art was much lower than I wanted to admit. So 2015 was the year I turned 10 hours of creating a month into 20 hours a week. Ten hours became eighty hours. A big transition – let me tell you – even though it was one I highly desired and I had a void to be filled.
2016 was all about balance. How much time did I allot to grandchildren, friends, my husband, and the drudgery of housework compared to creating my artwork? It was all about making my artwork a part of every day yet still allowing ample time for the other important aspects of my life. But to balance my life, I had to learn new skills to lessen the pressure of committing to new responsibilities for marketing my artwork.
So, in 2016, I learned photography – using my Canon Rebel for the first time and being thrilled with the results. I still have a long way to go but I can handle the basics for listing my art pieces. I’ve learned to turn my pictures into promotional pieces and collages. I’ve created a way to sign my work that doesn’t interfere with the design. I’ve developed banners and avatars for cards and stamps to easily carry my look beyond the digital world. I have the basics of packing and shipping down so I can enjoy delivering my art to buyers in a pleasant and creative manner. And I’m learning about those dang tags coordinating with titles. Some of my effort seemed to be wasted (although I learned – so no true waste!) when I spent hours creating a watermark (and adding to all my photos) only to discover that Amazon doesn’t allow watermarks and in general they limit your exposure online especially with the likes of Google Shopping. And I’ve learned so much more. But for the most part, I’m comfortable running my two shops – Etsy and Amazon Handmade as well as my website.
Looking back, I see 2015 as a time of confusion and a feeling of “Will I ever get it all done?” whereas 2016 was a time of marking those tasks/learning experiences off my list one by one. Many thanks go out to my sisters – first Mary for helping me build my website and second, Janey, who supports me from afar – reposting my Facebook posts, brainstorming with me, and even buying my product. I now understand that the twenty hours that I spend weekly on my art projects doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be in the studio creating art that entire time. Part of that time will be used photographing items and then listing for sale. Part of that time is spent educating myself on this world of selling handmade products. Many weeks, time dedicated to my handmade enterprise averages 30 hours or even more. But I love it all which leads to my 2017 word.
Fulfilled – that’s what I’m believing for 2017. It’s all about continuing to see my dream unfold. Am I selling all the art I envisioned? Yes and no, but I’m on that road. I also have 2017 goals – some personal and others having to do with running my two little shops. But the anxiety of change – of the many steps required to move from my 2015 decision to where I’m at now – is a thing of the past.
Fulfilled doesn’t just mean reaping that which I’ve worked to obtain – it also contains a challenge. It’s a New Year’s resolution of sorts to remember that I am already fulfilled and living life as I always dreamed when faced with some difficulty in 2017. Worries or discouraging events wane when compared to the joy of my every day life. And my little handmade art endeavor adds yet another layer of joy to my foundation of family, friends, faith, and Mother Nature.
Happy New Year!